Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Sun Was Gone

It was an amazing sight, as I looked up into the sky.  The sun was entirely gone.  It hasn’t happened like that since, well, since ….
Well, since last night at this time.
And so, I looked into the starlit sky when I drove to my midnight hour at the adoration chapel, and I said aloud: “Praise God.”
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Psalm 136
Praise the LORD, for he is good
for his mercy endures forever;
Praise the God of gods;
for his mercy endures forever;
Praise the Lord of lords;
for his mercy endures forever;
Who alone has done great wonders,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who skillfully made the heavens,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who spread the earth upon the waters,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who made the great lights,
for his mercy endures forever;
The sun to rule the day,
for his mercy endures forever;
The moon and stars to rule the night,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his mercy endures forever;
And led Israel from their midst,
for his mercy endures forever;
With mighty hand and outstretched arm,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who split in two the Red Sea,
for his mercy endures forever;
And led Israel through its midst,
for his mercy endures forever;
But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who led the people through the desert,
for his mercy endures forever;
Who struck down great kings,
for his mercy endures forever;
Slew powerful kings,
for his mercy endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his mercy endures forever;
Og, king of Bashan,
for his mercy endures forever;
And made their lands a heritage,
for his mercy endures forever;
A heritage for Israel, his servant,
for his mercy endures forever.
The Lord remembered us in our low estate,
for his mercy endures forever;
Freed us from our foes,
for his mercy endures forever;
And gives bread to all flesh,
for his mercy endures forever.
Praise the God of heaven,
for his mercy endures forever.
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A great philosopher once said that we think that the sun lights our way, but we forget that only in the dark can we see the most distant stars.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Use Your Talents

Today’s Gospel was the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30).  For many years that Gospel bothered me, for I know I am greatly blessed, and I wondered was I yielding enough fruit.  The homily at today’s mass and meditations in The Better Part helped frame that parable a bit differently for me.
First, note that the talents were given by the master in proportion to the servant’s ability.  So, if we apply our abilities there should be no worry about how much we are yielding --- like I worried.  Second, the master set the standard; the one given two yielded two more; the one given five yielded five more.  The Master, God, sets the standard; He does His share, and we need to do ours.  What should we do with the talents He gave us?  All we need do is read the Gospels to see His standards, and do likewise.  He showed us how to live.
A key third point is that the fruit we yield is not for ourselves.  The servant who was chastised was the one who was given one talent and kept it.  He yielded no fruit.  In other words, we would say he was selfish AND he didn’t trust God.  This is the guy who doesn’t study Scripture or pray, because he is busy “with more important things” --- he doesn’t know God or His examples of how to live, how to love, or how to yield fruit from his life ---- to live his life so that it mattered to the world that he was alive.  So often that servant feels so alone.  That servant lived his life focused only on himself.
Sadly, how many we see about us being just like him, and even more sadly, if we see one of those persons in the mirror.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"United" Means ...

A Congress split 51-49%, which includes the 2% who believe what schools are now teaching our children: You are always right; the other 98% are evil for disagreeing with you.  It seems this is our country today.
Once, the colonies WERE united in their stand against a common enemy, the king, and they took the name The United States.  They weren’t united in health care, religion, or sexual preferences or a lot of other things.  We forget what their “united” once meant.
We’ve changed the meaning of the words “gay” and “marriage,” so I now propose we enact a Constitutional Amendment to formally change the meaning of the word “united” to what the word what was understood to mean: about an 80% agreement on critical matters (or at least some huge majority).  Therefore, no national law could be passed without an 80% approval of Congress.  (Of course, that means THIS Congress could go home and run for re-election for the rest of their terms, since they agree to agree on nothing.)  No 80% agreement; no federal law.  No more 51% voting for something that the other 49% pays for.  No more Supreme Court finding everything has National requirements in the Constitution.  Further, since we’ve seen opinions change over time, all federal laws should be in effect for only 10 years, to be renewed with 80% vote, or voided back to state or local control.
So, Obamacare would be around for 10 years, and then be re-approved or changed by an 80% vote, or the local governments take charge of local medical laws --- and pay for the costs of their implementation.  Same for federal taxes and other laws.  We either act as the “United” States, or the states act alone.
This certainly seems what “United” once meant, and perhaps should formally mean again.
(I know this is not a spiritual meditation, but it IS something which seems to irritate everyone nowadays.)
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This morning (as I do every morning) I read the next New Testament chapter and next Psalm in my little morning prayer book.  And so, I read Matthew 14, and Psalm 30.  I sat outside the church before mass, reading in the cool and beauty of the morning light, praying and listening to the still.  And I knew it was good.
At mass, a different peace settled on my soul.  And then the Gospel was read --- Matthew 14 again, which I had just read outside.  This was no coincidence, and so I pondered the Gospel words and wondered: What is God saying to me?
In the beginning of that Gospel, Jesus went up the mountain “by himself to pray.” (Last night the adorer who prays with me during one of my hours did not show, and so I prayed alone, as I did outside this morning.)  When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, Jesus said to him: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (My blog:  Do Not Be Anxious?)  And so, Peter walked on the water toward Jesus, but “when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened” --- events of the world overtook him --- and he began to sink.  “He cried out ‘Lord, save me!’  Immediately, Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why do you doubt?’”  (He is saying that when the events of the world, of life, trouble us, that is the time to trust.)  And Peter said: “Truly, You are the Son of God.”
Events yesterday had me thinking about how God often goads me, and I get irritated.  It’s a sign that I need to pay attention; God doesn’t goad me or permit me to be angry for no reason.  I had that “great insight” in the morning, and so then what happened later that night as I gathered with friends?  Ta-da: I got irritated.  And so, later in the late night adoration chapel I reflected on these things, and learned a further lesson about God’s goads --- a lesson re-enforced yet again with this morning’s Gospels.
It is good for me to recognize that when I am irritated there is a reason; God has a lesson for me.  But --- I need to learn that lesson and live it, so I don’t constantly have to be goaded and goaded (and angry) again.  I should trust that God puts this person or event --- which I don’t like and goads me --- in my life for a reason or purpose.  That was the lesson of the Gospel, which was put in front of my eyes this morning:  I need Trust.
I have breakfast on Saturdays with a friend of many years, who now has Alzheimer’s.  Knowing it, I prepare mentally for our meeting, and the irritating things he does because of his illness don’t irritate me.  The lesson of last night’s irritations and the Gospel today is that I need to prepare for other gatherings of friends, co-workers, or events that I know might be irritating, and a big part of that preparation is prayer, and trust. 
I’ve written before about Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Faith is knowledge of what Jesus said, and maybe even a mental conditioning to believe it all.  But Hope is trust; that is more than just mentally believing; that is putting my life on the line --- still meeting those irritating people, still going to that event, because I trust in God, that He has put these people and events in my life or a reason.  And that reason is charity.  If we have faith, and can really have hope/trust, then we have the foundation or charity --- we can love even those irritating people, as Jesus does. 
Without charity, heaven is not ours to have.
A key point is to accept those irritating things and events (and even our Congress, which I referred to earlier), with a firm trust in God.  He will make good out of these things; do not be anxious. 
And then, even we could walk on water.
(And perhaps lean over and hold a hand out to the Congress people sinking around us? ----- sorry, I had to add that.   : - )  )
“God wants His world back, and we have to help Him.”
(And not getting irritated --- which you may notice starts with “I” ---
is a good way to start trusting Him to save us.)